[Paleopsych] Jihad and the petri dish--Osama's reproductive strategy

HowlBloom at aol.com HowlBloom at aol.com
Sun Jul 18 23:46:02 UTC 2004

I'm not a good tactician, so can't comment on whether decapitating militant 
Islam over and over again is good strategy.  

But the research I reviewed for The Lucifer Principle, my first book, hints 
that there may be a flipside to the idea that, "No group produces more than 5% 
or so of alpha animals."

That second side may be this: Every group produces 5% or so of alpha animals. 
 Or, to put it differently, leaders create groups, but groups also create 

Remove the leaders from a group and, if the group retains its cohesion, the 
group will generate new commanders, generals, and generalissimos.  In 
experiments on human groups, if I remember them correctly, if you gathered a bunch of 
beta males and put them together, a leader would emerge.  So would two 
sidekicks to the leader--a lieutenenant/enforcer and a comedic buddy.

If you put a bunch of ants together without a leader or a hierarchical 
structure, a hierarchical structure would eventually emerge.  If you removed the 
queen from an ant colony, the workers would sense the absence of thesuppressor 
hormones her majesty sent out to keep the workers in their place.

Several workers would undergo a metamorphosis.  Their sexual hormones would 
rev up and turn them into potential egg-bearing queen candidates.  Then the 
candidates would fight it out to see which one would take over the regal 
chamber--the huge room in the colony where a small squadron of handmaidens tended the 
swelling queen so she could turn herself into a monstrous giant--an 

If this principle holds true for al Qaeda, removing leaders will help but 
won't necessarily wipe al Qaeda away.  Al Qaeda is now a group whose legend is 
competing on the battlefield of history.  It's competing for an endurance that 
goes beyond one generation or two.

The way to make al Qaeda go away is to defeat it so dramatically and so 
persistently that it comes to be associated with failure.  The taint of persistent 
failure is a repulsion cue.  It drives followers and new recruits away.

The trick is this.  Al Qaeda has a perceptual antidote to defeat.  Every time 
its members are killed, their death is defined as a triumph.  Each death is 
turned into martyrdom.  Martyrs are bonding devices.  They are attraction cues. 
 They're sources of publicity that bring a group sympathy...and notoriety.

Christianity used the same device to spread its fame and to gain converts in 
the first and second centuries ad.  Christian enthusiasts literally begged 
Roman judges to send them into the stadiums with starving animals and to rocket 
them directly to Christ's side in heaven via the liftoff pad of martyrdom.  
Sorry, the animals and the martyrdom were what they begged for.  The image of the 
liftoff pad with liquid engines fueled by blood is mine.  Howard
What does one do when an enemy upends the rules and turns humiliation into a 
recruitment tool?  Howard

In a message dated 7/18/2004 6:43:29 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
shovland at mindspring.com writes:
If our leaders had kept their eye on the ball and had hunted Osama
down, we would have fewer problems.  Perhaps a regime change will
return us to the correct path.

No group produces more than 5% or so of alpha animals, so if you
iterate decapitation enough times, the other side will run out of leaders.

Howard Bloom
Author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of 
History and Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 
21st Century
Visiting Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York University; Faculty 
Member, The Graduate Institute
Founder: International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic 
of Evolution Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The 
Big Bang Tango Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American 
Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, Academy 
of Political Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International 
Society for Human Ethology; advisory board member: Youthactivism.org; executive 
editor -- New Paradigm book series.
For information on The International Paleopsychology Project, see: 
for two chapters from 
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History, 
see www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang 
to the 21st Century, see www.howardbloom.net
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